Greensboro’s Greenhill Center, has held the ‘Motorcycle. Art. Design’ (M.A.D) exhibit since early February. This past week I was able to walk around the exhibit myself, getting a feel for this flashy experience.
M.A.D was a collaborative project, created by UNC School of the Arts Director of Scene Design, John Coyne and a select number of his graduate and undergraduate students. Other artists included: visual artist, Ivan Toth Depena, textile expert, Evan Morrison, motorcycle guru, Oscar “Ozzie” Scofield and Greenhill’s very own curatorial associate, Erin Riggins.
The M.A.D exhibit consists of a multi-media and experimental design, using art, motorcycles, sound, lights, and historical and cultural memorabilia to excite its audience.
A turn into the exhibit, and visitors will see classic motorcycle gear, including worn leather boots and jackets, as well as helmets covered in Harley-Davidson stickers. Continuing to the end of the hallway, hand crafted saloon doors lead visitors into a vintage biker bar, with a faux leather and metal design. Motorcycle parts and an American flag with a motorcycle sewn into its design, are hung on the walls. In the dim lighting, you can see all the exhibit visitor’s thoughts and remarks graffitied on the walls.
A left out of the saloon and the 1960’s hit motorcycle movie, ‘Easy Rider,’ is playing for anyone who wants to sit back and relax. A large timeline of all the motorcycles displayed in the exhibit is featured on the wall, leading visitors out to the showroom that holds two dozen motorcycles. The selection spans all the way back to 1898’s Thomas Auto-Bi, to 2016’s Vyrus 986-M2. Every bike was hand selected by Laura Way and Ozzie Scofield, and donated by North Carolina motorcycle collectors and dealerships.
This exhibit is an ode to motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages, but can be appreciated by non-motorcyclists as well. When first walking into the exhibit there is a montage of clips, featuring biker gangs. The video slowly transitions to a highly-contrasted video with a white background, that colorfully highlights the zipping tail lights of cars. Still pictures of the video are plastered on the walls, creating movement on the flat surfaces, while matching all the motorcycle’s colors and designs. Straight lines of LED light were created to resemble tail lights, and the subtle sound of engines humming can be heard in the background.
Many of the motorcycles were placed on pedestals, designed and constructed by Coyne and his graduate student Vaughn, resembling a flat or hilly road. The still pictures of the videos had quotes from motorcycle gurus, speaking on their experience of riding. The mixture of still pictures, video, lights, sound, and motorcycles made the entire exhibit feel as if it were in constant motion. The atmosphere was similar to a motorcycle show, but with a heavier emphasis on the rebellious and alluring energy of the motorcycle culture.
Many of us would associate motorcyclists as men, but interestingly, the M.A.D exhibit displayed women’s attire and their contributions to the ‘Motorcycle Maids of America’. Older pictures showcased women riders and their ribbons for taking part in motorcycle conventions. This inclusion of women felt not only necessary, but became a highlight of the exhibit, telling other women riders that they were important to the influx of the motorcyclist culture in the mid-1900s.
Another highlight of this exhibit was the interaction between visitors and the artist’s design. People could write on saloon walls and a book about the ways the motorcycle culture was and still is important to them. This interaction between the artist’s vision and the public’s experience with the culture creates a continuously changing exhibit.
A review of the exhibit would not be complete without writing about some of the more impressive motorcycles on display. The 1991 Moto1 Prototype was an aerodynamic masterpiece, that was manufactured here in North Carolina. The Moto1, with its sleek form, looks like the motorcycle of the future and deserves its place in a Science Fiction movie.
Another favorite, was the 1954 Harley-Davidson Pan Head FL, which was used as a police motorcycle in Wilmington, North Carolina. At the time, it became a principal part of the police force, with its clunky windshield and painted ‘POLICE’ identification on its back rim.
A 2000 Top Fuel Harley-Davidson Ray Price Nitro Drag Bike was also on display. This bike, displaying Price’s name, and owned by the Price family. It has 1,000 horsepower and goes up to speeds of 227 miles an hour.
However, the most impressive bike on display was the 1951 Harley-Davidson Pan Head Captain America Replica. The original was ridden by Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider”. It is a classic, with an extended wheelbase, pulled-back handlebars, and an American flag themed paint job.
M.A.D is a showcase for everyone, especially those interested in everything about the motorcycle culture. It is fun, creative and interactive. The exhibit will stay open till June 8, 2017 at the Greenhill Center.